Opioid Addiction: Causes, Signs, and Tips for Treatment

Juliet D'cruz

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Opioid addiction is a major issue in the United States. In 2016, more than two million Americans misused prescription opioid painkillers and one-third of those were new users. Opioids are powerful drugs that can have a euphoric effect when taken as prescribed or used for recreational purposes. Their abuse comes with many risks including dependency, overdose, and death – especially if you mix them with other substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines. This blog post will cover causes of opioid addiction, signs someone might be addicted to opioids, and tips for how to get help for an addict who doesn’t want it themselves.

The epidemic started because opioid medications were overprescribed without understanding their effects on people’s bodies. It was common for patients to want opioid painkillers, but not understand the risks associated with opioid use. This contributed to opioid addiction and opioid overdose deaths as people were taking too much of a drug that wasn’t meant for them in dangerously high or frequent amounts.

The main cause of opioid addiction is the euphoric effects it has on the user’s body coupled with its relative accessibility. Some opioid prescriptions can be obtained legally over the counter while others, like heroin, are illegally produced and sold. Because of the way it feels to take them, many users find themselves wanting more and more. Because there is a large black market demand for these legal and illegal drugs, it is usually relatively easy for people to find more. This is what makes opioid addiction so common.

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There are many signs that someone might be opioid-addicted, but here are a few of the most common ones:

  • changes in mood or behavior (irritability, anxiety)
  • physical symptoms like nausea and constipation when not using opioid drugs
  • obtaining opioid prescriptions from multiple doctors without telling them about other opioid use
  • getting arrested for illegal activities associated with opioid drug use (buying opioids illegally on the street, stealing to buy prescription opioids).

Opioid addiction is also characterized by opioid cravings, withdrawal symptoms (which can be severe), continued  use despite negative consequences, and an inability to stop opioid use. These are all signs that someone might have an opioid addiction. Another sign of opioid addiction is lying about the quantity and reason you’re using opioids – especially if it’s not the prescribed reasons like pain treatment. The last sign of opioid addiction is when things in life start getting put on hold because drug use has become more important than anything else in someone’s life. This could mean losing friends, family members, or jobs because they don’t care enough to quit taking drugs while still being able to function normally otherwise.

Finding opioid addiction treatment can be difficult. First you have to identify the root cause of opioid addiction and what’s driving it. This might be a physical opioid dependence or an opioid addiction caused by a different mental disorder, like depression or anxiety. If you’re not sure what caused your opioid addiction, your doctor or a specialist can help diagnose opioid addiction and provide treatment options for opioid use disorders. It’s important to quickly seek help for opioid abuse if someone has any signs of addiction. The longer an opioid addiction persists, the more likely it is to get worse and more difficult to treat.

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